Henri de Toulouse-Lautrec, French postimpressionist
painter, lithographer, and illustrator, who documented the bohemian
nightlife of late-19th-century Paris.
|Château du Bosc-La Terrasse, 1880
Musée d'Albi, France
Toulouse-Lautrec was born in Albi into one of
the oldest aristocratic families. Henri was weak and often sick.
By the time he was 10 he had begun to draw and paint. At 12 young
Toulouse-Lautrec broke his left leg and at 14 his right leg. The
bones failed to heal properly, and his legs stopped growing. He
reached young adulthood with a body trunk of normal size but with
abnormally short legs. During his convalescence, his mother encouraged
him to paint. He subsequently studied with French academic painters
L. J. F. Bonnat and Fernand Cormon.
|Au salon de la rue des Moulins, 1894
He stayed in the Montmartre section of Paris,
the center of the cabaret entertainment and bohemian life that
he loved to paint. Circuses, dance halls, nightclubs, racetracks
and parisian brothelsall these spectacles were set down
on canvas or made into lithographs. Toulouse-Lautrec was very
much a part of all this activity. He would sit at a crowded nightclub
table, laughing and drinking, and at the same time he would make
|La Goulue arrivant au Moulin Rouge
1892, The Museum of Modern Art, New York
Toulouse-Lautrec preserved his impressions of
these places and their celebrities in portraits and sketches of
striking originality and power. Outstanding examples are La Goulou
Entering the Moulin Rouge (1892, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec, Albi),
Jane Avril Entering the Moulin Rouge (1892, Courtauld Gallery,
London), and Au salon de la rue des Moulins (1894, Musée Toulouse-Lautrec).
|Le divan japonais, 1893
Toulouse-Lautrec, many of whose works are in
the museum that bears his name in Albi, was a prolific creator.
His oeuvre includes great numbers of paintings, drawings, etchings,
lithographs, and posters, as well as illustrations for various
contemporary newspapers. He incorporated into his own highly individual
method elements of the styles of various contemporary artists,
especially French painters Edgar Degas and Paul Gauguin. Japanese
art, then coming into vogue in Paris, influenced his use of sharp
delineation, asymmetric composition, oblique angles, and flat
areas of color. His work inspired van Gogh, Georges Seurat, and
His alcoholic dissipation, however, eventually
brought on a paralytic stroke, to which he succumbed at Malromé,
one of his family's estates. Since then his paintings and posters--particularly
the 'Moulin Rouge' grouphave been in great demand and bring
high prices at auctions and art sales.